Nielsen has revealed that radio listening increased for some nationalities throughout the four weeks of Ramadan, accounting for 42% of all radio listening in the second quarter.
Interestingly, according to Nielsen’s UAE Radio Audience Measurement (UAE RAM), conducted from April 1 to June 30, 2018, much of this increase in listening during Ramadan was seen among Indians and South Asians, and people aged 25-39 years old. While listening levels for Emiratis and Expat Arabs dropped during the Ramadan weeks versus other weeks in Q2 - 32% reach as compared to 25% reach during Ramadan weeks.
Given that UAE residents have shorter working hours during Ramadan, it’s interesting to see that mostly non-fasting nationalities turn to radio for their entertainment in their additional spare time.
Measuring the whole UAE population’s listenership to 51 radio stations across the country, Nielsen’s UAE RAM found that listening to religious stations during Ramadan started to peak later in the day (2 p.m. to 10 p.m.) compared with the non-Ramadan period. In other quarters and during the non-Ramadan weeks in Q2, the amount of listening occurring in the early morning from 6 a.m. onward was much higher.
The peak time of listening during this Holy Month takes on a different shape, with a dip in reach levels around 7 p.m., coinciding with Iftar timings and the norm of breaking fast with family and friends at home. Listening levels rise again later in the evening between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., as people tend to head out after Iftar for prayers and Suhr.
Looking at the entire second-quarter, radio reached 92% of the UAE population, a slight decline from the previous quarter (95%). This is most likely due to many residents travelling out of the country for the schools’ Spring break in the first few weeks of April, as well as during Ramadan and Eid al Fitr holidays.
Despite the decline in reach versus the previous quarter, engagement with radio remains exceptionally high with 61.2 million hours of radio listening across all seven emirates in an average week, with listeners tuning in for an average of 8 hours each week.
Radio listenership continues to vary by location, with the latest quarter results reporting a slightly lower reach in Dubai (90% vs 92%) and Sharjah (91% vs 95%); a total of 177,000 listeners lesser compared to Q1 2018 whilst Abu Dhabi has seen a small increase, reaching 20,000 more listeners, and is still the location where radio is most popular compared to the other Emirates in terms of reach.
Listeners in Dubai, Sharjah and the Northern Emirates region which includes Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah, clock in 9 hours tuning into radio in an average week, while listening activity in Abu Dhabi remains lower at an average of 6 hours a week.
“While the Ramadan specific data will not be available at a wider level to preserve the full dataset’s representation of the whole UAE population, we have been analysing closely the changes recorded in the radio diaries throughout the four-week period. From many other studies, we know that people’s behaviour overall, and especially in relation to media consumption, changes considerably during Ramadan, as fasting and prayer times take on a renewed significance—typical behaviour is turned on its head for those observing the Holy Month. The radio listening patterns we see emerging certainly reflect this,” said Sarah Messer, Director Media—Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, Nielsen. Messer added, “Although there is a dip in listening at an overall level, it is in the context of very healthy radio consumption, with drops in listenership that are in-line with expectations when audience behaviour is considered.”